Reportedly, one in ten are afraid of flying, which means that right now thousands of people are gripping the armrests of their plane-seats in prolonged, mid-air panic. As someone who has suffered from aviophobia for years, I bring you eight tips on how to cope with your fear of flying:
- Take your time:
The airport only reminds me of the terrible things that are to come, so I prefer to spend as little time there as possible. However, to some the thought of missing a flight is a major source of stress, and giving yourself a lot of time to get to the airport, check in and mentally prepare for the flight is critical if you want your journey to be as comfortable as possible.
I always viewed breathing-exercises and mindfulness as a bit la-di-da, but breathing is in fact something of a miracle-cure for stress and anxiety. Practice breathing exercises in advance or have an audio guide on your ear so that you can slip into it without too much preamble, and after a while your body will begin to relax.
- Read up on statistics:
Statistically it’s safer to fly than drive, but fear of flying is about control, and you usually feel far more in control behind the wheel of your car than on an airplane. So here is another statistic for you to consider as the plane rattles over to its designated runway: 4.3 billion people travelled by plane in 2018 – very few of them ended up dead. While you may feel that the reaper has his eyes on you as the Boeing 737 takes off, statistically you are more likely to win the lottery or get killed by a falling coconut.
- Break up the trip:
This is to avoid losing your head mid-air. Break the trip into half-hours, each with a designated activity to distract you. You can start off with listening to radio and move on to reading etc. (If you are lucky you may doze off and sleep through some of the half-hour slots.)
- Talk to someone:
If you are flying alone, relying on the kindness of strangers can sometimes bring great comfort. Make your fears known to the people around you, either your neighbour or a member of the cabin crew, and your worry might become less pressing.
- Move around:
Relaxing your muscles and moving about not only forces you to think of something else, but also improves your circulation and stops you from tensing up. Take a stroll up and down the aisle and see how relaxed everyone looks. (In the case of prolonged turbulence you might have to resort to a solid combination of tip number 2 and 5.)